While a Christian must not harden his heart to the poor of his people God does not wish His people to be, or to support the slothful man who is a sluggard. As the Biblical-Christian work ethic is conducive to blessing, the opposing ethic of the sluggard is conducive to poverty. I would first wish to show the apostles teaching on the subject of poverty or want.
The personality of the Christian, as to never be truly poor as taught by Paul:
Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
Study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.
(1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)
Verses the person of the slothful sluggard as told by Solomon:
I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.
Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.
The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets. As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed. The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth. The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.
In all of the teachings of the apostles on the subject of poverty, the rule of God’s morality as found in his law is ever present: If a Law were to take precedence in the subject for the Christian it would be the fourth Commandment: Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of YHWH thy God… (Exodus 20:8-10) A Law which does not only forbid word on the Sabbath day, but commands labor and work to be done for 6 days, this is relevant to the Christian. In effect the Fourth Commandment in a holistic application supports and resists the next two commandments as those dealing with non-Christian actions in society, that which lead to sloth:
Thou shalt not steal.
Thou shalt not covet … (Exodus 20:15-17)
By the lack of work ethic and respect for ones own labor, theft and covetous find their entry, while some sluggary has it’s poverty with no added offense but detriment to their own families and selves.
Those who have should give if they can and help the afflicted, but this was not in consideration of helping the impoverished sluggard one poor of his own idleness. Yet, the Christian who forbears to help his own people, one who is a truly poor man and in need of help, finds himself in violation of the same two commandments above, by neglecting his responsibility to help his brother, as well, he is in the balances of violating the 1st Commandment.
If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which YHWH thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. (Deuteronomy 15:7-8)
Thus, the biblical rule of helping ones brother and / or neighbor, he who you know to not be slothful. The ‘rich’ were to help the poor of there own people, those who were of family relations first those that they personally knew, and then proceed: Family, Extended family, Ethnicity (Tribe), Nation (Israel / Judah), Stock (Israelite- Hebrews), and last was “Strangers who are not of thy people Israel”. Many in Christianity ignore the lawful or ‘licit’ chain of charity, even in a loose sense, wishing to save those ‘3rd world countries’ from poverty, especially when they are ‘Christian’. Yet the Bible endorses family and local Charity, and only after the Nation becomes “the head” and blessed according to God’s commandments are they to “lend” to others in order to help ‘strangers’ of another people, by lending help is extended to gain a return.
Christians are not admonished to give there children’s wealth to strangers, rather if biblical Christians are to give, they are admonished to teach Paul’s work ethic by example, as to teach any who wish to follow the God of heaven and earth a mode of living conducive to a better life by the sweat of ones own labor, for, There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour. This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God. (Ecclesiastes 2:24)
The Christian faith leads God’s Covenant people into a better work ethic, whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; (Colossians 3:23).
And in the event of hard time we are admonished:
in whatsoever state we are to be content. To know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. We can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. (Philippians 4:11-13)
We are to help the poor as Christians, but let us not waste resources on helping a slothful sluggard we have never met or are unrelated to, let us follow the biblical example and help the poor of OUR people!
Now Consider the Law on the poor.
Exo_22:25 If thou lend money to any of my people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury.
Deu_23:20 Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
By this law usury is forbidden in lending to ones own people, that is the lending of money for a future gain from the borrower.
Exo_23:3 Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause.
Exo_23:6 Thou shalt not wrest the judgment of thy poor in his cause.
By these laws we see that the poor are to be treated equally in matters of judgment at law.
Exo_23:11 But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.
This is among one of the first laws listed that is in welfare to the poor, yet the poor are not given anything without putting forth there own labor.
Exo_30:15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.
By this law we see that even the poor and rich’s souls are evalued at the same price.
Lev_14:21 And if he be poor, and cannot get so much; then he shall take one lamb for a trespass offering to be waved, to make an atonement for him, and one tenth deal of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering, and a log of oil;
This law provided a way for even those who had no animals or money to atone, by the welfare laws found in Exo 23:11, Lev 19:10, Lev 23:22 any one who is willing to “work out his own salvation…” could do so by collecting the sustenance given to them by God’s Law and giving a portion back at the altar is needs be.
Lev_19:10 And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.
See Lev 14:21
Lev_19:15 Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment: thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty: but in righteousness shalt thou judge thy neighbour.
Same as Ex 23
Lev_23:22 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.
Lev_25:25 If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold.
This is among the first Kindred Laws of redemption, that teach that family, near kin and kindred tribes (Ethnic nationalities) are to help there own as to better there nation, in the case of God’s Law we are dealing in Israelite specific tribes.
Lev_25:35 And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee.
Lev 25:36 Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.
Lev 25:37 Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.
Lev_25:39 And if thy brother that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bondservant:
Lev 25:40 But as an hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubile:
Lev 25:41 And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return.
Kindred Law of redemption: Help in relief and living . No usery, Not bondsmen, but pay him as a hired servant. Christians should have 7 year laws in place for this reason.
Lev_25:47 And if a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger’s family:
Kindred Law of redemption: Never let your own people suffer as poor when you may redeem him.
Deu_15:4 Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the LORD shall greatly bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it:
The true blessing of following God’s social laws of conduct is to eliminate poverty.
Deu_15:7 If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother:
Kindred Law of redemption
Deu_15:9 Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee.
Even knowing that you will not be payed in full do not slack at what you can do and what you should do to help your brother.
Deu_15:11 For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land.
While Deu 15:4 seems to contradict this, the cart must be placed behind the horse: By following God’s laws of poverty and poor relations in being charitable, we may under Christian Government eliminate poverty, when the poor arise we help as perscribed by law.
Deu_24:12 And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge:
The pledge was ofter ‘the shirt on his back’, while we may except a pledge in payment, even of the poor, the trust that the poor man will repay, and that the rich man will not oppress is symbolized.
Deu_24:14 Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates:
Deu_24:15 At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee.
No mater who we are hiring, of our own people or of a stranger, when he is poor we must give him his pay on the day agreed, because his heart is set upon it, for he is poor. The bible reckons the day to end at sun down or evening, thus, before the day ends of your agreed day of payment or of every working day if he be totally destatude, you must pay him.
The above are most of of the laws of poverty and poor relations. What should be noted is in an biblical society, we do not see Charities, group efforts, Church soup kitchens, and food pantries: we see people helping there brother(s), that is, we are personally involved with the person as a brother or kinsman of a common race or nation. Yet the admonition to hire poor strangers by pledge is available, that is one who is not related by race or nation, or who is just simply a rover. As uncomfortable as it may be he bible is aimed at local solutions, solving problems from the family to the nation FIRST and helping other nations and peoples only after biblical people become the head…
Deu 28:12 The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.
Deu 28:13 And the LORD shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the LORD thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them:
The curse is of the causes of poverty :
Deu 28:43 The stranger that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low.
Deu 28:44 He shall lend to thee, and thou shalt not lend to him: he shall be the head, and thou shalt be the tail.
Deu 28:45 Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee:
Consider the wisdom of Solomon on the subject of poverty and the poor, what causes it and what examples Solomon gives for it’s cause, namely:
Sloth, sleep, slacked hand, refusing instruction, want of judgment, love of pleasure, drunkenness and gluttony, hastening to be rich, following vain persons, mocking the poor and being glad at others poverty.
In opposition we can see these admonitions:
Ecc 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.
Pro 6:6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:
Pro 6:7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,
Pro 6:8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.
Pro 6:9 How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?
Pro 6:10 Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
Pro_6:11 So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.
Pro_10:4 He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.
Pro 13:4 The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.
Pro_13:18 Poverty and shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction: but he that regardeth reproof shall be honoured.
Pro_13:23 Much food is in the tillage of the poor: but there is that is destroyed for want of judgment.
Pro_20:13 Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.
Pro_21:17 He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.
Pro_23:21 For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
Pro_17:5 Whoso mocketh the poor reproacheth his Maker: and he that is glad at calamities shall not be unpunished.
Pro_21:13 Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.
Pro_28:19 He that tilleth his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.
Pro_28:22 He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.
Pro_28:27 He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.
Admonitions of poverty and things to consider
Pro_10:15 The rich man’s wealth is his strong city: the destruction of the poor is their poverty.
Pro_11:24 There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.
Pro_13:7 There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.
Pro_13:8 The ransom of a man’s life are his riches: but the poor heareth not rebuke.
Pro_18:23 The poor useth intreaties; but the rich answereth roughly.
Pro_19:1 Better is the poor that walketh in his integrity, than he that is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.
Pro_14:20 The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends.
Pro_14:21 He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he.
Pro_14:31 He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.
Pro_19:17 He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.
Pro_19:4 Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbour.
Pro_19:7 All the brethren of the poor do hate him: how much more do his friends go far from him? he pursueth them with words, yet they are wanting to him.
Pro_19:22 The desire of a man is his kindness: and a poor man is better than a liar.
Pro_28:3 A poor man that oppresseth the poor is like a sweeping rain which leaveth no food.
Pro_28:6 Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich.
Pro_28:8 He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.
Pro_28:11 The rich man is wise in his own conceit; but the poor that hath understanding searcheth him out.
Pro_28:15 As a roaring lion, and a ranging bear; so is a wicked ruler over the poor people.
Pro_29:7 The righteous considereth the cause of the poor: but the wicked regardeth not to know it.
Pro_29:13 The poor and the deceitful man meet together: the LORD lighteneth both their eyes.
Pro_29:14 The king that faithfully judgeth the poor, his throne shall be established for ever.
Pro 31:9 Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needymore.
Pro_30:8 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me:
Pro_30:9 Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
Consider well, our failure as true biblical-Christians we are to apply these laws in our ‘Church’ the best we can and are able, the lack of so doing, or usurping God’s Law by our own vain philosophy is not Christian, it is wrong, and it has further reaching consequences than we consider. Using God’s Law in harmony with the gospels and epistles, will restore liberty.